By: Anthony Campo

One of the reasons supra-maximal effort training can be such an effective tool for strength and hypertrophy is due to the adaptation of the Central Nervous System (CNS). The CNS is a pivotal component in regulating how much force the body can potentially produce. It is important to specialize and train the CNS accordingly like you would any muscle group in order to maximize your potential.
Before discussing specific supra-maximal exercises you can use, we must first distinguish the different methods you could use. In part I of this article we will discuss how you can tap into CNS, and utilize supra-maximal holds to help you crush some personal records.
One way use can use the idea of supra-maximal effort training is to stimulate the CNS right before a big lift. For example, let’s say you were working up to a one rep max on the bench press and you are trying to hit a record for yourself at 300 lbs. Warm-up as normal, but a couple minutes before your 300 pound attempt load the bar up to 350 lbs. Un-rack the weight and hold it statically in the lock-out position for a count of 5 seconds, then re-rack. This supra-maximal hold will help prime the CNS, and help maximize its force output. Even if you are not working up to a one rep max, you can still use this method to prime the system. Let’s say you were working up to one primary work set, and trying to hit a rep record like in my 12 Week Maximal Strength and Hypertrophy Program, using squats as an example, right before your work set load the bar with an additional 25% of the weight. Un-rack the weight, and walk it out. Hold it statically for a count of 5 seconds, and then re-rack.
This method is a way to instantly tap into your CNS and create a greater potential for higher force output. In Part II of this article we will discuss some training methods and exercises that will help train your CNS into a positive adaption for the long run.